Santa gifted me a heaping lump of coal this week in the form of another canceled television gem. I attribute this more to Santa’s heinous taste in entertainment than the fact that my people spin dreidels rather than sing carols (I have been known to rock out to The Waitresses’ ‘Christmas Wrapping‘, but that’s just a non-denomenational anthem of awesome).
Another one bit the dust on Tuesday when HBO announced it was canceling the smart, funny, perfectly-cast How to Make it in America. As a student too cheap to subscribe to cable (that’s what trips to mom and dad’s house are for), I only discovered this half-hour treasure through my passionate adoration of all things Kid Cudi.When I heard my favorite Cleveland rapper was trying his hand at acting, I had to lend my support. When I found out Bryan Greenberg starred in the New York-based comedy-drama, I was sold. And when I traveled through Europe this summer, I spent an entire sleepless night in London tearing through the first season on my iPhone.
So imagine my distress when entertainment blogs pummeled me with the news that HTMIIA had been axed before even reaching its third season. The nauseating anger I felt was familiar. This sort of sick injustice is all too common in the television world, after all. While a seemingly endless supply of insultingly bland, unfunny crap floods the airwaves (I won’t name names, but a good amount of said crap is consistently lauded by critics and apparently watched by an alarming number of people), some of the most outstanding, unique underdogs get sent to the chopping block.
So in memory of the dearly departed HTMIIA (February 14, 2010 – December 20, 2011), I offer a tribute to some of television’s other fallen soldiers. Rest in peace, guys.
1. My So-Called Life
Okay, obviously. There is no comprehensive list of prematurely axed iconic series that doesn’t include MSCL. This show was everything, and nearly SEVENTEEN years after its cancellation (seriously, just send me to the home for the aged already), the hour-long drama lives on as a true cult-classic. I not only own the DVD set, but actually traded in my original collection when this upgraded version came out (the new set contains an accompanying booklet with a letter from creator Winnie Holzman on what would have happened to the characters had the show survived—worth the trade-in!). I have no idea what made this woefully short-lived series so compelling–whether it was the startlingly realistic banter, the phenomenally talented actors or Angela’s all too relatable Obsessive Catalano Disorder. Whatever it was, it clearly wasn’t enough for network executives who pulled the plug after a mere 19 episodes. We never even had a chance to meet Tino.
2. Freaks and Geeks
This Paul Feig/Judd Apatow masterpiece was touching, hilarious and busting at the seams with talent. So clearly, it couldn’t survive. Freaks and Geeks was met with an even crueler fate than MSCL—canceled after only 12 of 18 completed episodes saw the light of day. Lucky for us, the complete series was released on DVD, and many of the show’s key players went on to do the insanely amazing things they were destined to do (Franco and Rogen and Segal, oh my!).
3. Arrested Development
Sometimes the universe aligns in an inexplicable way and births something unexpectedly and profoundly perfect. In 2003, such a divine miracle took place in the form of the Bluths. Try as they might, other family-centered comedies have never come close to approximating the sheer genius that was Arrested Development. Every frame of every episode came armed to the teeth with punchlines—blink and you’d miss ten jokes, all equally smart, sharp and the kind of hilarious that actually induces side pain. Whether it was Tobias in his Blue Man Group makeup or Lindsay in her trusty “slut” shirt, the show always delivered. It was yanked off the air in 2006 and there have been talks of a movie for years. Creator Mitchell Hurwitz says the project is a go—could we be so lucky as to resurrect George Michael and GOB?
These are of course just some of the ghosts of TV past, gone long before their time. Feel free to lament your favorite unjustly canceled shows in the comments. We can support each other through this.